If you grew up in the United States during the 50s and 60s, especially if you were an adolescent boy, the name Annette Funicello conjures up immediate images of a fresh-faced, lively girl who appeared on your television set every weekday as one of the original members of the Mickey Mouse Club. Ms. Funicello, after spending the last several decades suffering from multiple sclerosis, passed away in on April 8 at the age of 70.
When she joined the Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s she was only 12 years old, but as the years went on America watched her grow up. The popular program became a huge hit with adolescents and, after it ended, lead to Funicello signing a contract with Disney studios. After that, she became an even bigger star.
She had two top 10 singles, one in 1959 and one in 1960, and her film career quickly took off once she began making “beach” movies, often with popular costar Frankie Avalon. The two appeared in several movies together, such as Beach Blanket Bingo and Bikini Beach.
She also had sucess in television, but by the mid-60s her more humble goals saw her get married and raise a family of three children with her then husband and former agent Jack Gilardi.
Funicello and Gilardi divorced in the early 80s, and in 1986 she married Glen Holt. Then, in 1987, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and revealed the diagnosis publicly in 1992.
Annette Funicello is survived by her three adult children, her husband Glenn Holt, and her former husband Jack Gilardi.